It seems like it must be fairly common for married or committed couples with small children to find themselves scrutinizing their relationship, post-children. Particularly once the kids are asleep or, in those rare moments when they have a babysitter and can actually exit the house—together. Last night, as John and I were going out for our we-hate-large-crowds-and-most-people-so-let’s-avoid-going-out-on-Valentine’s-Day-and-go-out-a-few-days-before annual Valentine’s Day dinner, I had a moment in the car where I thought, “This is it. All we can talk about is the consistency of Luca’s poop and how smart Rowan is.” That lasted for the entire ride to dinner—although, to be fair, it veered off into me thinking, “I should always drive,” and “I hope this dress has ‘give’ so I can eat a lot of French fries.”
Once we were seated, though, and began talking, I realized that I just really, really, really like my husband. He is just so . . . likeable. And hot. Let’s not forget that. Even the waiter (male, hetero [I actually knew him because, apparently, I know, like, everyone in Tucson]) when John got up to use the bathroom told me John was, “gorgeous.” Hells yeah! But marriage with kids is not without its difficulties and moments of dread, because, let’s face it, spending time with any one person for a lifetime is, um, daunting.
If you had told me when I first met John that he would someday be my husband, I would have checked your vitals, or at least your eyes for signs of redness. And then I would have laughed, because frankly, I would have thought you were kidding. Thor and I had moved here only months before John got a job at Bookman’s. So I was still infected with the dirty hippie love, and literally saw no man as a potential anything in my life. This was my immersion stage, when I had the inability to create any sense of self outside of the person I was dating. Good, healthy times!
I remember when John interviewed and his first day of work. I even remember what he was wearing (red vintage short sleeved shirt, blue jeans, converse.) Now, before you say “well, you must have been interested to notice those kids of details about him,” let me just say that I probably remember what you were wearing when I met you, because that is just how my brain works. I love the fashion. I remember the interview, because someone said, when they saw him, “good, we need a new guy to flirt with,” and I thought “flirt all you want, I have Thor!” Never mind that he’s at home cleaning his gun and doing bong hits. Never mind that he won’t wear deodorant and has started getting phone calls from strange women! Never mind that he’s chanting in the guest room for three hours a night and drinking his urine.
Wait. Where was I?
Ah, yes. I remember his fist day of work because he walked in with a seatbelt sweat line, and since it was my first summer in Tucson, I remember thinking, “holy shit, I should get the AC fixed in my car.” Other than that, John wasn’t on my radar. There are things that strike me now, like the fact that he would always, and I mean always, have a paperback in his back pocket. And each day at lunch time, no matter what was happening in the break room, he would sit on the couch and read, ignoring all the chatter, and not chiming in on the gossip. I respected him for that, while I was gossiping and chatting.
We started dating years later, after many failed attempts on John’s part to get my attention and me finally asking him out after two very awkward run-ins with him in which I felt myself blush and get all tingly. We were pretty much drunk for the first year, seeing as he was pretty shy and I was pretty intimidated. He’s smart. Like, weird smart, which comes in handy now that we have a kid that asks things like “were the prehistoric trees larger than modern trees?”but which, for me, was a teensy bit unsettling at first. I don’t think I completed a sentence for the first month. It took us a while to get married, which is his fault because he went through the I’m-not-sure-I-want-to-get-married phase, along with the I-don’t-know-if-I-want-to-have-children phase. Once he got that out of his system, we were a go. As I told some friends the other night, when John finally asked me to marry him, my response was, “are you sure?” Because, dude, he was all, like, keeping his options open there for a while, and I just wanted to be clear.
He was sure, and now, years later, I find myself going, HOLY SHIT! I’m MARRIED! FOREVER! WHAT WAS I THINKING? WHY DIDN’T ANYONE STOP ME? But really, I couldn’t have it any better. This is a man that for the first year after I had two kids, rubbed my feet every night before bed and now rubs my neck whenever I need it, which is often. He has impeccable taste in music and is fuuuuuunny. Funnier than you. Funnier than . . . well, me! He is an incredible blog editor (hi, honey!) and offers me excellent advice about my writing. He never gives me a hard time when I come home from Buffalo Exchange with six new sweaters, ten new tank tops, some jeans, and another vintage coat. He is, as he once said, “old timey.” As a friend said recently, “you know, John doesn’t say much, but what he does say, I want to hear,” and that summed him up so well! I adore my friends, but there is no one on Earth I would go to for advice before John. You would probably try to spare my feelings, but John just tells me the truth. And he does it with great affection, and only a little gentle mocking. I’m pretty mockable.
Of course there are issues. For example, when John argues, he does it as if he’s before a grand jury, trying to get his client out of the electric chair. He argues like that about everything. Even, like, which shade of blue is better. And he claims, at age 40, that most vegetables still make him “gag.” His driving is a little questionable, and it became clear to me to me early on that I must never, ever, ever buy him clothing of any kind. He’s that picky. He’s such an Anglophile that if I come home one day to an empty closet and a note that says “Moved to London . . . sorry . . . will always love you,” I won’t be in the least surprised. He forgets things, which used to be hard for me but now brings great comedy into my life. Like the time I asked him to go get the mail, and I watched him walk to the bottom of the driveway, look left to right, and walk back up to the house without the mail because in the three seconds it took to get to the bottom of the driveway, he forgot why he was going there. I shit you not. I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of that one.
But really, he’s loving and loyal. He parents the children in ways that literally make me question my skills, and he has an unparalleled sense of social justice. Really, he has taught me to look at people and the world entirely differently, and he challenges me to grow. He is the most empowering person I have ever encountered and sees absolutely no reason why I couldn’t accomplish anything. No one makes me laugh harder, and I simply can’t imagine being with another human being. Because that would be weird. Marriage is hard. It’s hard even with the best partner, let alone some dick. Thank god I didn’t marry a dick. Some women marry total dicks. That must really suck. I want every woman to have a John! Clone and patent him, stat! Because my guy? He’s no dick.
Happy Valentine’s day, sweetie.